As far as grassroots business development strategies go, speaking, presenting, and self-producing workshops and boot camps are the epitome of giving you the biggest bang for your buck. However, they can be a tricky beast if you don’t know what you’re doing or why you’re doing it.
Countless entrepreneurs are out there either A) wanting to produce their own in-person workshops, but have no idea how to do that, let alone how to sell them out or B) have tried to produce an event only to have to reschedule or cancel due to low ticket sales.
Does this sound familiar?
So, what can you do in a crowded market besides eBlasts and ads galore? Here is a working framework for how to produce a SOLD OUT event.
Always know the who, the why and the when.
Before you do anything else it’s incredibly important to understand WHY you’re producing the event in the first place.
Are you utilizing the format to Scale your business from one to many in order to better leverage your face-time with clients? Or, are you looking to flesh out your sales funnel by creating a lower barrier to entry where you can service the DIY crowd, while simultaneously establishing the need to work with you in a higher price point offering? Either way, you can’t determine success if you don’t know what you’re aiming for.
The second most important step is to know exactly WHO you’re serving. What are their behavioral profiles and buying triggers? Once you understand what motivates them to buy-in you’ll have the inside scoop on how to get them pushing those BUY NOW buttons.
There is an old saying that goes “Timing is EVERYTHING!” As you integrate why you’re creating this event and who you’re creating it for you’ll have a better idea on WHEN to offer your event so you get maximum attendance.
- The Holidays and Summer are notorious for having an uphill battle getting those butts in seats.
- Same goes for being aware of optimum days of the week. It is not recommended to hold an event on a Monday (Friday’s can be rough too depending on the target audience) as those days have proven to be “protected” days with many potential attendees.
- Keep in mind when you’re looking at the scheduling to be cognizant of the necessary lead time you’ll need to promote your event – 4-6 weeks is the absolute minimum amount time you’ll need (basically 2 cycles of monthly networking meetings). Also, be sure to add in the subsequent time you’ll need to leverage the buzz from your first offering into an encore performance!
Here are a few other key strategies because VISIBILITY & REACH is EVERYTHING!
A. Speaking, Presenting and Expos are an absolute MUST when you’re trying to fill those seats! Don’t expect to be able to phone (or click) in the work, especially in the beginning, when your credibility isn’t well established for producing actionable content in an easily digestible and fun format. Giving the potential audiences a “taste” of your speaking and content style is a compelling way to fill a room.
B. Go into each event knowing you’re going to have comp’d seats. In the beginning, you may have as many as 50% of the seats filled with unpaid ticket holders and that’s OK! Just be strategic about who is getting those spots and why. Utilize Raffle Giveaways at various networking events as a way to announce to the group what you have going on and create buzz.
C. Leverage INFLUENCERS within your target audience to help spread the word! Giving a group of influencers some comp’d tickets in exchange for sharing the event with their “tribe” can expand your reach significantly and get you exposure to potential attendees that you would’ve otherwise not had access to.
D. Finally, be sure to offer what I call The Buddy Ticket, especially when targeting women (we are notorious for loving to travel in packs…just ask anyone going to the bathroom!) The idea came from a fellow entrepreneur Kristen Scott when she pointed out that she knew several people who would benefit from the topic being presented, but she didn’t have a nice way of saying “hey you stink at networking, so you should really take this workshop on How to Get Your Networking Working!” She suggested that giving a significant discount reward for “pairing up” would enable people to spread the word without uncomfortable conversations. “Hey, I want to go to this and would love to get the discount so who else is interested so we can pair up and save?” is a great lead-in and has proven to be incredibly successful at expanding reach and filling seats.